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The Future of This Substack
This is crunch time for my current book project on Robert Gould Shaw. My hope is to complete the manuscript by the end of the year, but this means that my time here needs to be refocused. I have done my best to reward the hundreds of paid subscribers to this site with videos, podcasts, and the occasional group discussion. My hope is to continue this at some point, but it simply is not possible right now. With that in mind I am shifting my subscription tiers a bit to accomodate my priorities.
Most of the content on this site will remain free as I have always intended, but paid subscribers will have exclusive access to one post per week in addition to Open Thread Thursdays. This also includes access to the comments section as well.
I do hope all of you understand. My writing online has never depended solely on paid subscriptions, but please know that your support makes it easier for me to justify the time it takes to research and write these posts, which I hope you continue to enjoy. Thanks again and let me know if you have any concerns.
Comments are open to everyone on this post.
Congratulations to my friend and fellow historian, Heather Cox Richardson, on the four-year anniversary of her massively popular Substack, Letters From An American. Many of you are subscribers. And why wouldn’t you be? Heather is a brilliant historian, whose scholarship has enriched my understanding of American history over the past two decades. I still remember sitting around a table with Heather and the rest of my book writing book back in 2018 listening to her talk about her then popular Facebook group. Who knew it would explode the way it did.
Later this month, Heather will publish, Democracy Awakening: Notes on the State of America, which is based on her Substack posts. Can’t wait.
I’ve always maintained that national polls about how to utilize public spaces to commemorate the past are irrelevant. What matters are local polls, especially when they involve Civil War monuments. Consider this recent poll in Jacksonville, Florida, which is still debating what should be done with its Confederate monument.
When asked about the city removing all Confederate monuments from public spaces, 50% of respondents said they back removal, 42% saying they oppose removal, and 8% wouldn’t say either way.
Here is disturbing piece from Salon on the adoption of PragerU’s online resources for history teachers. Conservatives maintain that politics and ideology should not enter the classroom, but what they really intend is that only their preferred politics should be taught to students.
Virginia’s Department of Education has approved the College Board’s course in AP African-American Studies after a six-month review.
I appreciated Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s reflections on the importance of teaching history at a gathering on the 60th anniversary of the Birmingha church bombing that took the lives of four young girls.
If we’re going to continue to move forward as a nation, we cannot allow concerns about discomfort to displace knowledge, truth or history. It is certainly the case that parts of this country’s story can be hard to think about. I know that atrocities like the one we are memorializing today are difficult to remember and relive. But I also know that it is dangerous to forget them.
Registration is open for the 2024 conference at the Civil War Institute in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. If you have any interest in the Civil War, do yourself a favor and register. It’s an intense five days of lectures and battlefield tours that you will not soon forget. Peter Carmichael, Jill Titus, Ashley Whitehead Luskey and the rest of the staff do an incredible job year after year.
Building off yesterday’s post, I really enjoyed listening to Clint Smith reflect on his experience interacting with members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans during his visit to Petersburg as part of the research that went into his book, How the Word is Passed.
Smith offers a lesson on the importance of empathy and the need to take seriously the perspectives and stories of people, whose view of the world may differ from our own. As he suggests, this doesn’t mean that you have to accept those stories as true, but that we appreciate the ways in which stories give meaning to all of our lives.
Yesterday was the 161st anniversary of the battle of Antietam. Here is some footage from a 1997 reenactment of the battle if you are into that sort of thing.
This year is the 30th anniversary of the movie Gettysburg. Here is a behind-the-scenes look at the filming of one the movie’s scenes involving the 20th Maine. Enjoy.
New to the Civil War Memory Library
Fergus W. Bordewich, Klan War: Ulysses S. Grant and the Battle to Save Reconstruction (Knopf, 2023).
Christopher Looby ed., The Complete Civil War Journal and Selected Letters of Thomas Wentworth Higginson (University of Chicago Press, 1999).
Charles Reagan Wilson, The Southern Way of Life: Meanings of Culture and Civilization in the American South (University of North Carolina Press, 2023).
The big man is enjoying a few cool days along the Maine coast this week. I hope all of you have a wonderful and safe week.
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